Playing RevGal’s Friday Five a few days late: Do you have trouble sleeping?
Catherine, over at Come to the Table responded to this week’s Friday Five in a timely fashion. I’m a bit late to the party, but since the subject is near and dear to my heart as one who has struggled with insomnia off and on most of my life (yes – even as a child!), I will submit a late response. (Better late than never, I guess, huh?)
1. Are you prone to sleep challenges? Insomnia, snoring, allergies? Other sleep challenges? Unfortunately, yes, I am. I have struggled with sleep issues for as long as I can remember. Mostly, my brain takes the night silence as a cue to mean, let’s let every stress provoking, terror inducing thought you have ever had occur to you simultaneously, while it’s so nice and quiet, and they can come through so nice and clearly! My sleep issues tended to be that I’d either not be able to fall asleep (and the stress of not being able to relax and fall asleep would totally exacerbate my ability to relax and fall asleep), OR I would not be able to STAY asleep (ditto the aforementioned stress/can’t relax/can’t sleep/stress/can’t relax/can’t sleep cycle just mentioned) – so I’d sleep for an hour or two, and be up the rest of the night, thinking, if I fall alseep now, I could have three hours of sleep…then two…then one…then freakin’ none. That went on for YEARS. Not a whole lot of fun.
Just to keep my life interesting, I have also had times in my life when I just have not felt tired when I should have – I just didn’t “need” to sleep. That’s called, um, hypomania! I struggled with an awful, awful cycle of this for years, but, after an extremely stressful time last year, miraculously I find that most nights, I take a benadryl, and just drop off to sleep until it’s time to get up. I have my little bendadryl, and my lovely white noise waterfall, and my special pillow, and voila! I sleep! Oh..and I feel TIRED at night most nights now, with really no meds, except the benadryl. Perhaps it’s just age? I dunno.
Come to think of it, I have also recently taken to snoring more (sorry E!), a result, I think, of putting on a good bit of weight after said stressful period last year. I’m in the process of working on that. Sort of.
2. When you can’t sleep what do you do? Toss and turn? Get up and read? Play computer games? When I can’t sleep, I try praying the rosary for a bit. I find that the repetitive, completely familiar prayers will often disconnect my mind from the stressful thought patterns, and will lull my brain into a trance which really helps me sleep. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve fallen asleep before finishing (and I do hope God forgives me, as I’m sure she must…) If I am really just rolling around, and getting frantic, I’ll get up, pick up the most dull, non-fiction material I have available, get out of bed, go into the living room, and just read till my brain says enough. This is almost as good as the rosary, but, not quite, since with the rosary, I can stay in bed in the dark, under the covies, which is less disruptive to the sleep cycle. When I read in the middle of the night, I usually move so I don’t wake up the whole house with my own lack of sleep.
I used to play on the computer, but, I read some research which indicates that the light from a t.v. or computer screen mimics blue light, which can in turn interfere with your brains natural hormonal response to light – making your brain think it is “wake up” time, instead of sleep time, so I don’t do this anymore, and I find that it helps. I also try not to be on the computer in the hour or so in the evening just prior to bed time, and I find this really helps. So, if you suffer from insomnia, try staying away from the computer and/or t.v.!
3. When you do sleep do you remember your dreams? Or just snipets of them?
I often remember my dreams, but I don’t remember dreams every day. Usually I find that I remember the ones that are weird, odd, or disturbing/scary – I hardly ever remember dreaming nice things, and since I don’t awake screaming every day, I assume I must dream nice things from time to time. When I think about my dreams, I can usually piece together either what my subconscious is trying to tell me or what things I am unconsciously worried about. I can sometimes do it for your dreams too, much to the chagrin of some of my friends and family.
4. Can you share a funny or confusing dream you’ve had? Or a dream you have over and over?
I often dream that I am running through a house with tons of rooms. The house is mine, and starts off with me in familiar, cheery comfortable rooms, but at some point the house seems to grow all out of proportion and has wings and rooms I don’t remember ever seeing. Sometimes I am being menaced by something chasing me in the house, and sometimes I’m just freakin’ lost in my own house (um, do we think organization might be a wee bit of an issue for me?). Note the house is not a house I have ever lived in in real life – I just understand that it is my own in the dream. Classic anxiety dream, really. I have also dreamed of being pregnant and not realizing it, going to a doctors appointment and being told I’m in labor. Odd, I know, but, also classic repression kind of dream – like – oooo…I wonder if things are going on in my life of which I am totally unaware , but of which I really SHOULD be aware.
5. When you don’t sleep how do you get through the day? Lots of coffee? or a nap later in the day?
Depends on why I’m not sleeping. If hypomania is the cause, I don’t need anything. I just wake up awake, and stay awake for hours on end. It’s actually quite scary the amount of my life I’ve spent in that “not needing sleep” state – and being randomly overproductive and spreading myself waaay too thin.
If the lack of sleep is due to stress or anxiety, I’m like a zombie the next day, and will drink 12oo cups of tea, caffeine sodas and the like to try to get through. I am NOT a napper, so unless I have had a run of sleepless nights, it is highly unlikely that I will nap, even if I really want to. Waaaah!
When I’ve been in exercise mode (and I’m not at the moment), I do note that taking a walk helps to wake you up, and, makes you feel more prepared to sleep when that time of the night arrives. (Hmm…treadmill seems to be calling me!)
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